We are getting closer. Just uploaded the files for the print version. That will need to be proofed and any corrections made. I would like to publish the digital version and the print version up at the same time. Digital is ready to go. Print is holding up the works.
Since you are so patient, here is another taste from The Last Day of Forever, Chapter 18 – Femme Fatale.
The second week we were in Baltimore, The Herndons put on a party to welcome their prodigal son home from school for the summer. In the Landon/Herndon fashion, it was indeed a grand soiree, which included the financial and political elite of Baltimore and Washington. The food was fabulous and in plentiful supply, and there was a fountain spouting streams of rum-spiked punch. As guests of honor, Miles and I were expected to turn out in our VMI uniforms. I had not seen so many handsome men and beautiful women so elegantly dressed in one place before. A full orchestra, not like the little five piece band at my birthday, was on hand for dancing.
The first time I saw her, I was standing beside that fountain of spirituous punch, engrossed in the mechanics which enabled it to spout the élixir de la vie, as it were. I had just about reconciled myself to the fact that I would have to peek under the tablecloth in order to discern its secrets when I heard my name called.
I looked up and saw a most lovely sight, Mademoiselle Aimee de Beauchamp, on Miles’ right arm as he made his way across the ballroom of Herndon Manor with her equally lovely and charming twin sister, Annette, on his left arm.
“Ethan, there you are! I’ve been looking all over for you. I have two most charming ladies I want you to meet.”
I must confess their beauty immediately enraptured me.
He introduced me in his broken French, “Mademoiselle Annette, Mademoiselle Aimee, this is Cadet Private Ethan Davis.”
I took the hint and responded in kind. “Enchanté, Mademoiselles,” I replied with a sweeping bow.
Both of the sisters immediately looked at each other as if they had finally found a home in the New World, someone who spoke their language. They curtsied and in unison said, “Parlé vous Francais, Monsieur?”
“Oui. Je suis la Louisiane.”
Their eyes lit up. “Un Creole?”
“They are the daughters of Monsieur de Beauchamp, a diplomat with the French embassy in Washington.” And according to Miles, they spoke not a word of English. “Are they not absolutely stunning? Aimee is mine, no, I think I prefer Annette,” said Miles in English.
They looked exactly alike, and their gowns were identical. Had I not kept track of which one was on which side of Miles, I would have easily mixed them up. I wondered how he could tell them apart or what difference it made. Both had dark hair and stunning blue eyes, reminding me of Rachel. They were on the petit side, not more than five feet four inches tall and slender of build.
“I think Mademoiselle Aimee would like to dance, Ethan, and I think you should ask her.” I took the hint, a proposal to which she readily agreed. Miles, of course, followed suit with her sister, and the four of us stepped onto the dance floor.
Mademoiselle Aimee proved to be even more enchanting than I had first thought. She was well educated, intelligent, and as poised as the most polished diplomat. Moreover, she had a sense of humor, which I found most refreshing, and a marvelous smile that made me want to make her laugh all the more. She wanted to know all there was to know about Louisiana and asked me endless questions about my home and my Creole heritage. We danced several dances until she appeared to be tiring, at which I suggested we retire from the floor for refreshments.
We met Miles and Annette at the mysterious fountain of spirituous elixir, and he suggested we take some fresh air. As we passed through the doorway to the patio, he said to me in English in hushed tones, “Keep Aimee occupied for me, so I can be alone with her sister. The two are almost inseparable.” With that he swept Annette away and out into the garden.
Aimee seemed not the least disturbed that her twin was gone off with Miles. We moved into the garden, and she took a seat on one of the garden benches there. She sipped her punch pensively for a moment, as I was somewhat at a loss for words, then she looked up and said in accented but grammatically perfect English, “It seems your friend Miles is quite fond of my sister.”
I looked at her askance. “You speak English?”
“Yes, I am the daughter of a diplomat. It is expected,” she replied with a wry smile.
“But Miles said you spoke no English.”
“It is a little game my sister and I sometimes play. We told Miles what he wanted to hear.” Once more she flashed that arresting smile as she patted the bench beside her. “Please, have a seat.” Somewhat stunned, I took the offered seat. She saw my confusion. “You are offended, Ethan?”
“No, just a bit taken aback.”
She smiled. “I imagine Miles will be, as well, when he learns Annette understood every word he said.”
I then remembered Miles’ remarks as he conspired to get Annette away from her sister for who knows what in the garden. Fortunately for me, it was dimly lit around our bench, or she might have seen my red cheeks. Then it hit me; the sisters de Beauchamp were also conspiring.
I looked at her and chuckled. “Old Miles thinks he’s such a ladies man. Wait until he discovers he has been had by someone more clever than he.”
She giggled at that remark. “I do not know when she will tell him or even if she will.”
“Well, I won’t tell on her. It’ll be fun to see just how long she can fool him.” I looked into those blue eyes. “Why did you confess to me?”
“I thought it best our relationship start off on an honest note.”
Our relationship? I thought about what she said. It was possible to read all manner of meanings into it, but I decided I should simply take it at face value.